Bentley Continental GT3 - fast and promising giant on the track
It was September 2012, and Bentley had just unveiled the Continental GT3 Concept racer. The regular, road-going Bentley Continental GT coupe was, and still is, a very popular luxury model, but nobody expected that it could become a proper race car. However, Bentley seemed confident and a year later, a real Continental GT3 race car was introduced and ready to race.
The largest car on the grid
Since the street legal Bentley Continental GT is a big and heavy coupe with 5 meters in length and weighing over 2 tons, the racing Bentley Continental GT3 had to be highly modified in order to pass the FIA GT3 regulations, meet adequate racing performances and be competitive. Understandably, the first task was its weight. Using aluminium chassis and fiberglass body, Bentley Continental GT3 now has only 1280 kg which is a great improvement and a number similar to the other GT3 cars. The power was never a problem, and Bentley Continental GT3 uses the same 4.0 twin turbo V8 engine as the road car, but with the power restricted to 600 bhp.
GT and GT3 – completely different
However, there were some big modifications in construction and the whole engine was pushed back in the engine bay almost to the center of the car for better weight distribution. The Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox was moved to the back of the car, transaxle style, and the Continental lost its all-wheel drive system and is now a rear wheel drive car. From a distance, the street legal Bentley Continental GT and Continental GT3 look very similar in appearance to an untrained eye, but the truth is, those two models are completely different vehicles, giving different performances and driving experiences.
Successful in Blancpain GT Series
From 2013, the Bentley Continental GT3 was very active in all of the world’s endurance championships and races, especially in Blancpain Endurance Series where it was used by two teams, Bentley Team HTP and M-Sport Bentley. The first race Bentley Continental GT3 had was at Gulf 12 Hours, held at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. The M-Sport team finished fourth in that race, while in May of 2014, the factory team won the Silverstone round of the Blancpain Endurance Series with Bentley GT3. The M-Sport team even collaborated with the factory during the development of the GT3 version. During the Bentley Continental GT3’s career, the new car proved to be very fast, winning some races and achieving many podium finishes.
New generation of promising cars
Due to the size and dimensions, Bentley Continental GT3 feels best on long straights where it can go with full speed and fast curves where its big wheelbase adds stability. Official Blancpain test days for the 2015 season proved that the Bentley Continental GT3 is one of the fastest and most promising cars on the grid, which was partially confirmed during the racing season.
Best is yet to come from Bentley Continental GT3
Since the Bentley Continental GT3 is still a relatively new model on the racing scene, it is possible that the best is yet to come for Bentley in endurance racing. The first two seasons proved that Bentley Continental GT3 has a lot of potential and that its size and bulk are not necessarily a problem. As a brand, Bentley has a long and interesting racing history which dates back to the early twenties, and during that period, the name Bentley was synonymous with victories at the world’s most prestigious races such as 24 Hours of Le Mans. Almost a century later, here is a car that can keep the flame alive and once again participate and win on the world’s best tracks.